Throughout America’s history and in nearly every era, different political groups have attempted to interpret and align themselves with the original intent of the Founding Fathers. Despite the fact that the Constitution’s Bill of Rights is relatively simple and straight forward, there are still Americans who disregard the Founders’ intent if it does not fit their dysfunctional interpretation and religious inclinations. In particular, the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, establishment of a religion, and freedom of speech have been fiercely challenged by conservatives and theocrats whose stated goal is to change the document to establish Christianity as the State religion and the government into a theocracy.
Conservative Christian fundamentalists who claim to be the ultimate patriotic Americans are undoubtedly the worst offenders at denying non-Christians a voice, and in lieu of laws allowing them to suppress free speech and freedom of religion, are using violent threats against non-believers to intimidate and silence them. The recent publicity of 8,000-plus threats to atheists on Fox News’ Facebook page by Christians is positive proof that not only are those making threats not patriotic Americans who support the 1st Amendment, but they also belie their assertion that they are good Christians.
The threats are the result of a Fox News segment reporting that an atheist group, American Atheists, filed a lawsuit to stop the display of the World Trade Center cross at a memorial of the 9/11 terror attacks. The suit names the city of New York, state of New Jersey, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as defendants in the case. The group objects to a religious symbol being displayed in a government funded building and cited the 1st Amendment’s separation of church and state as reason for the legal action. The groups’ president, Dave Silverman said, “That any government enshrinement of the cross was an impermissible mingling of church and state.” The cross, consisting of two steel girders from the World Trade Center had been appropriately displayed at a church, but was moved to the 9/11 memorial on July 23, 2011.
Christians had visions that god made the conjoined girders from the rubble into a cross to show that he was with America after the terror attacks on 9/11. Silverman said, ”The WTC cross has become a Christian icon. It has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. It’s a truly ridiculous assertion.” Whether or not god bestowed the symbol as a reminder that he exists or not is irrelevant; the reaction of the patriotic right wing fundamentalist Christians though, is relevant to demonstrate their hatred of the Constitution and the freedoms it represents.
The good god-fearing Fox News loving Christian fundamentalists threatened atheists with rape and murder for objecting to the government-sponsored religious display. The threats were not limited to the group’s leaders; one representative threat from an elderly female read; “Any court or lawyer who takes this case should be hung,” and that “You have taken enough of my rights away.” Another fine follower of Christ wrote, “If I could, I’d shoot all of you in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun” or “These people are f***ing scum of the Earth. Can we start killing them now? Few groups are filled with more hatred than atheists.” Well, there are no atheists threatening Christians with 12-gauge shotgun blasts to the head, so the level of hatred issue becomes comical if not for the serious and real threat of violence.
The recurring theme of the 8,000-plus hate-filled threats was that the Christians were rabid to shoot, rape, savagely beat, and murder atheists because they object to the unconstitutional use of public funds to display a Christian symbol. The other theme that perfectly represents the hypocrisy of the Christian threats is, “I love Jesus, and the cross and if you don’t, I hope someone rapes you.” There is also the hypocrisy of the patriots who allegedly support the Constitution but have no comprehension that the Founders prohibited the establishment of any religion. The people who made the threats have associated being an American with being a good Christian. One patriotic threat said, “I’m so sick of people that pick and choose when the want to be truly American. If the cross offends you, so should this country; leave before we kill you.”
The vile Fox News Christian threats against atheists belie Jesus’ commandment that his followers were supposed to, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-48). However, the atheists have not cursed, hated or persecuted the Christians and only want the government to follow the Constitution. The groups’ leader said that if the memorial displayed religious symbols from every religion in America, they would withdraw the lawsuit. There are a majority of Christians who consistently claim they are persecuted by atheists because they object to prayers at public school functions or just by existing. In California there is a huge controversy because an atheist organization bought space on a billboard that said it was acceptable not to believe in a supreme being. There have been death threats and one preacher riled up fundamentalists when he said on a radio program that Christians were sick and tired of atheists throwing their disbelief in Christians’ faces and depriving them of their religious freedom.
The death and rape threats are hideous in and of themselves, but it is disturbing that there is not an outcry from every Christian group and the clergy condemning the violence being advocated by other Christians. In case there is any doubt as to Jesus Christ’s teachings regarding his followers yearning to shoot non-believers in the face with a shotgun, his statement in Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of god.” It is glaringly apparent that the Christians who made the vile threats and the other Christians who are not condemning them are dangerous and belie their assertion that they are followers of Christ. They are also not American patriots who follow the original intent of the Founding Fathers and it gives insight into exactly why the Founders prohibited the establishment of a state religion.
This incident, although vile and disturbing to decent Americans, gives a clue to what America is going to look like if Christian Dominionists achieve their goal of transforming this country into a theocracy. When the Dominionists are in power, the cowardly threats will look tame compared to the slaughter the Christian fundamentalists will embark on and it should frighten every American. The threats on Fox’s Facebook page were aimed at atheists, but without laws protecting free speech and religious freedom, no religious group will be safe. Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, and Pagans will be slaughtered for not following the fundamentalist Christian directives. This episode should convince Americans that Christians who make obscene death and rape threats are equal to or exceed the Taliban in Afghanistan and the fact that the Christian clergy are passive participants with their silent approval makes them no different than radical Islamic clerics who promote death to non-believing infidels.
The Founding Fathers’ original intent in the 1st Amendment cannot be any clearer, and yet the alleged patriots and devout followers of Christ disregard the Constitution when it interferes with their dysfunctional religious beliefs. If Christians love the cross and worship it as an icon, that is their prerogative; although the bible’s Ten Commandments forbids any reverence to a symbol regardless of its origin. It does not matter how many Christians live in America, it is not a Christian nation by design of the Founding Fathers. One thing is certain; the people who made the threats and the Christians who are silently advocating violence against atheists are not patriotic Americans and are the antithesis of followers of Christ.
Perhaps the Christ these people worship and love is not the Jesus of the bible because the real Jesus taught forgiveness and peace that neo-Christians in America cannot abide. Unfortunately for non-believers, America is becoming perilously close to a Christian theocracy that will inspire an Inquisition and bloodbath; if it sounds unbelievable, Fox’s Facebook page proves these Christians are ready to slaughter anyone who does not conform or believe. It is just another sign America is devolving into a third-world country where religious fanatics are going to exterminate non-compliant citizens just like the Taliban in Afghanistan.